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  Big Switch, The From The BlunderworldBuy this film here.
Year: 1969
Director: Pete Walker
Stars: Sebastian Breaks, Virginia Wetherell, Jack Allen, Derek Aylward, Erika Raffael, Douglas Blackwell, Julie Shaw, Jane Howard, Roy Sone, Nicholas Hawtrey, Brian Weske, Gilly Grant, Desmond Cullum-Jones, Patrick Allen
Genre: Thriller, Trash
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: John Carter (Sebastian Breaks) is a denizen of London, home of devaluation, socialism and the permissive society, but he's not getting any younger and may be growing too old for Carnaby Street. He's a man who makes his money where and when he can, and that's how he takes his opportunities, so when he turns up at this nightclub at two o'clock in the morning and notices a young woman, Samantha (Erika Raffael), is interested he is delighted when she agrees to take him back to her place - but that's his first mistake...

The Big Switch was part of the permissive society that narrator Patrick Allen intones about over the opening, and proof of that was the fact the titles unfold very slowly over the sight of a stripper going through her whole act for no other purpose than to titillate the audience and get their hopes up for more of the same for the next hour or so. Actually there were two versions of this prepared by director Pete Walker, one for the domestic market which was not quite as racy, and one for those more open-minded people overseas.

Stick with the export version and you'll get an eyeful of not very good actresses whipping off their clothes every five minutes or so, which helped to distract from the plot, which even by the standards of such things was pretty ridiculous. Once we do find out what's going on - Carter is as much in the dark about it as we are - it's less like some maelstrom of intrigue and more like something written on the day of filming to hopelessly tie up some very loose ends. Incidentally, this John Carter is nothing to do with the John Carter of Mars.

In fact, the hero's situation at the time this was released would have probably come across as seriously seedy and sordid, so naturally you watch the late sixties idea of that here and it's almost quaint, even comical. Obviously low budget, Walker was not quite at his full powers here, although his better known horror movies would rightly be seen as his highest accomplishments there remained a mildly entertaining level of amusement here. Mostly that level was like seeing one of the pulp paperbacks of the day brought to life, and as far as that went you could be diverted for a while.

It's not as if this was a long film, an hour and a quarter was all the export version mustered up, though it could be that The Big Switch was more interesting for those who prefer to look back on old movies as sociologically valid, as for a window into the times, and what was considered so near the knuckle, so there was something of worth here. If that wasn't your bag, then the story didn't have much to offer you as Carter heads out to buy a pack of cigarettes before his liaison with Samantha and when he returns he finds her shot dead in the bathroom. We saw this happening (and may wonder if the assassin had an accomplice as Walker is accidentally reflected in the shower screen), which makes the twist hard to believe to say the least, but eventually the baffled Carter is pinballed betwen gangsters, people smugglers and pornographers, without seeming half as capable as he's supposed to. Music, heavy on the bongos, by Harry South.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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